Tango-E-Vita, multilingual Belgian website which focuses on the many different dimensions of performing and experiencing Argentine Tango Dance as a living, ongoing event. Online multimedia such as instructional video-clips on guiding technique and views of shows. Articles in English, Dutch and other languages, with information and thoughts on the manner and quality of couple dancing and, regarding the mind-body relation and the act of exploring non-verbal communication, the powerful contemporary value of it. A special attention for multiple perspectives on gender, social class differences and mentality changes in the history of Tango Argentino.

This is not who we are

    They say, the term nostalgia describes a longing for the past, often in idealized form. The word is made up of two Greek roots ("returning home", and "pain"), to refer to the pain a grieving person feels because he wishes to return to his native home, and fears never to see it again. They say, it is about "The Way We Were"... which is a reflection on the present.
    It implies a "sad thought", a greater pain..., the recognition that here and now... "this is not who we are".

El Gaucho Martín Fierro- Gauchesque Literature
    In "La Vuelta de Martín Fierro", we discover that their hope of a better life is promptly and bitterly disappointed. Torn from the past, they're propelled into an uncertain future that goes nowhere. With each group that is uprooted or assimilated, a culture vanishes.


Time Shift... What Happens ?

    In a relatively short time, the Buenosairean society was diversified and became more complex. As Buenos Aires began to expand with "los barrios" or districts and the urban changes turned the city into a metropolis with a starting consumer culture, new career paths made it possible to move up. Everything began moving towards a new "Order of Things". Those who didn't fit in, were socially disoriented and bound to disappear like ghosts. So began a new era, like the process of globalization the end of the twentieth century.

    New habits... Between end of the first decade of the 20'th century and the 1940's, people of the districts began to frequent "los cafés" or coffee houses and cabarets in the buenosaires center, and politicians looking for votes walked the districts making political campaigns. The extension of free time outside the family homeworld, offered to many new encounters with great opportunities.

    A new consuming public was profiling or stereotyping itself, middle class "town-dwellers", common people, of the districts, that listened to tangos and danced, read newspapers, magazines and went to the cinema, frequented new socialization fields, from the local club to the bar and the "society of social climbing", trying to join a higher social class by becoming friends with people from that class, or, for the most part, just to meet other men and talk about literature, theatre and politics. Women however, didn't supposed to be there unless the "café" had a separate entrance and "las damas" stayed in the family sector. Later, "los cafés" transformed to elegant "confiterías" where ladies and señoritas could meet to drink tea at five. (photos & more)

    Consumerism and mobility. During the second half of the 19th century, animal-pulled trams or buses were the only transport means known. Therefore, there was an important need to create a fast transport system capable of carrying passengers between the center of the city and the suburbs. As in only ten years, between 1903 and 1913, the number of inhabitants almost dubbeld, the construction of fast subway (subte / subterráneos) became the right solution to the astonishing growth of the city. The construction and operation of Line "A" took 26 months. Newspapers commented in great detail on the ongoing of the construction work and its opening on December 1st, 1913, the first stage which reached Plaza Miserere. The following day the subway was opened to the people, and 170.000 passengers traveled by this new transport means.

    The expansion of the transport network facilitated an endless number of interchanges between the world of the districts and the one of the center. Buenos Aires had not only grown but was also more communicated. The mainstreet in the heart of the city, "La calle Corrientes", became the "neutral territory" on which the culture of the center and the one of the districts "were to taste".

Sexyness is such a hot item during this decade_sexy

    Like in Paris, cabarets, nightclubs were opened and flourished, and tango gradually advanced from the obscurity of the bordellos to the multicolor lights of city night life. With the opening of cabarets the image of tango changed. They rapidly multiplied and they had French Belle Epoque names. The cabaret became big business, it was a place of entertainment, to socialize and even a studio for personal business or a political privé rendez-vous. The music titles became melancholic, nostalgic or romantic without sexual connotations. Women started to sing these more decent tangolyrics without shameful feelings and in the 1920's, they displayed their singing talents first dressed and smoking like the men. In 1930 "Adiós Argentina", with tango-star actress Libertad Lamarque, became the first Argentine film to have a soundtrack.

    Entering the decade of the "Roaring Twenties", we find a new generation of female artists, who became a raging success on the stages of commercial theaters, the cabaret scene and the radio and movie industries. The formation of modern Argentina was promoted by an active interaction between the culture industry and its audiences / consumers. This exchange reflected the need in the public sphere for the creation of a modern feminine identity, a new profile model. These female figures occupy the setting during the decades of the 20 and of the 30, taking advantage of the radio diffusion, the improvement of the record system and the rise of the spoken movies, which would permit greater diffusion of popular music. It was an early manifestation of what later on would be part of the "sexual revolution" or "female liberation movement".

    As the male / female population balance was getting more equal in Buenos Aires, dating became more normal and the scene changed. Now, both men and women went to crowded tango dancehalls and confiterías, where they danced very close, the woman’s head over her partner’s right shoulder, so he could whisper in her ear and visa versa, this "cheek to cheek-style" was called apilado, piled up, packed tightly together. Later, with the appearance of the tango in the milonga danceclubs and the salón in the family houses, the tanguero public transformed. From 1940, the tango language had to express something else than the eroticism of the bordelles and cabarets louche. Consciousness shifts need new profiles. The aesthetic focus was no longer on sexual desire and carnal pleasures but on the elegant appearance which can be called an illusory deception, false premises or over-mystification of the feminine with tangos like “María”, “Malena”, “Gricel”, “Ninguna”, “Naranjo en flor”.

In Languages We Live

    The world seems destined to lose half its cultural heritage within the next century - Why do languages disappear and what is the significance of this loss, both to those who speak the languages and the rest of us?

    Janus Billeskov Jansen and Signe Byrge Sørensen co-directed "In Languages We Live" and "The Importance of Being – MLABRI" as part of the "Voices of the World" project: Language is the House of Being. The two Danish filmmakers wrote down a set of ethical rules for "Voices of the World". One rule goes: "Since all oppression presupposes dehumanisation of the Other, "Voices of the World" aims to counteract the mutual demonising of cultures, and to achieve this by means of humanising the unfamiliar and the different."

    Billeskov Jansen: "It's important to mention that this isn't about nostalgia, it's all about knowing your past and preserving your language and, in turn, your identity – having respect for your own language and an awareness that all languages are unique and worth protecting and being proud of."

    Byrge Sørensen: "People stop speaking their language, because they have no choice! If they see that their children don't stand a chance because they don't speak the main language in the area where they live, they have no motivation for passing their mother tongue on to the next generation".

    David Crystal, a linguistics professor: "We need to draw attention to the values of multilingualism as a universal human good, and as a personal opportunity to become culturally mature. A language acts in a sense as a straightjacket, allowing you to think in one way only. Then, - unless you have exposure to other languages and therefore other experiences and other visions -, that is not a very healthy situation."

More Tango Reflections, video illustrated:
Dance interpretations on Gallo Ciego
Walking the tango rhythm: 2x4 dos por cuatro
Walking Seduction
Dance is a physical need
Tangowals vals Milena Plebs Ezequiel Farfaro clips
Online Tangolessen videoclips videolessen updated
Carlos Gavito and Maria Plazaola
Showclips Forever Tango - great milongueros

The disappearance of "El Tango"

    Tango, born in the the slums of Buenos Aires. The bandoneonist and Argentine composer Rodolfo Mederos: The tango does not come from Argentina, but from a Babylon Tower (by the war-immigrations of Jews, Italian, Polish, Spanish and other); it arises from that Tower of Babel of those immigrants that did their music but fertilized by the Neapolitan canzoneta, the "couple español", the Polish polka with some "criollismo regional" and minted in an immense sadness, because many immigrants knew that they never would return to their land, not only because they were in war, but because they did not have the sufficient wealth or income.

    The tango, as musical entity, contains three musical influences and they have roots in Europe: the baroque one, by its ornamentation; the neoclassicism, by its structure and harmony, and the romanticism, in its interpretive aspect. In the beginning, the tango was melodious and spoke of "What is happening" to the people, they sung their own histories and later they could dance that music; the modern tango was removed of that in a very toxic way and put its eyes in concert halls.

    Our culture is in crisis, in state of disappearance; the tango to which I refer has disappeared. In their long presentation, where Rodolfo Mederos recalled the military dictatorship of their country and that produced 30 thousand disappeared persons, "and also disappeared a culture", referred to the Argentine cultural movement currently and to the role that develops the tango in it, what defined as a shopping where the tango is "macdonalizado", merchandized, they put in things that have nothing to do with the history of the tango, such as cosmetics, and the people, above all the tourism, consume this thinking that is a form of the tango; in reality the tango does not exist as popular culture, it exists as product for the tourism, that is to say, the tango has died. It has become a product for the tourism.


    Buenos Aires is viewed as one of the most progressive cities in South America. The city is in the midst of a tourism boom since the Argentine peso lost two-thirds of its value shortly after the country's 2001 economic collapse. Four of each ten tourists mention the tango as reason to travel to Buenos Aires. During tango festivals and competition contests, the hotel sector, the traditional articles such as souvenirs, tango discs, books and videos, beneficiaries with the presence of the foreign tourists. It generates dividends in the gastronomy, fashion and transport. Tangomusic moves around the world about 3,000 million dollars, of that single total 1% (30 million) correspond to Argentina. The invasion of foreign tangueros changes the old milonga codes. The codes changed to please them, drain the dancefloor to put more tables. The idea that they have is to put much people and it does not concern the quality of the dance space. A tourist bubble?

External links background views:
Hotel de los Inmigrantes - Museo de la Inmigración - Galería de imágenes
La historia de Buenos Aires - La Música prostibularia
Origin Barrio Secta Cuchillo Coraje
Origen Evolución Letras
Or. Historia Protagonistas Al Margen
Or. Arrabal poesía popular Evaristo Carriego
Or. personaje mito tangomit literatura
Or. literatura década infame Jorge Luis Borges
Or. Dossier Protocolo Etiqueta Bordel Cours Royales
Organito Draaiorgelmuseum draaiorgel folklórica folklore
El Silencio: Argentina y los negros / africanos - Carne de cañón / Casse-pipe
Subte Historia - Subway History
Villa 31 de Retiro - Villa miseria - Mujeres Artesanas
PatriciosPQ y Otras webs barriales de Capital Federal

Top buildings of the vanished tango cult

    Palais de Glace, the circular building where tango was introduced into the high society ballrooms, leaving behind the slums and the brothels. Palermo was a neighborhood of guapos, inhabited by marginal people, malevos (small-time hoods), compadritos (street ruffians), cuchilleros (knifefighters) and prostitutes. This is immortalized in many stories by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who in his “milongas” depicts the “taitas” (daddy) and “guapos” (cocky, good-looking guy) who lived in the area. It was also a refuge for tango because in certain times to dance it was considered a sin. Nevertheless, places such as “Lo de Hansen” and “Les Ambassadeurs” that were crowns of the tango, with one for the working classes and the other for the upper classes, were in Palermo. In the XIX century "El restaurant del parque de Tres de Febrero" known as "lo de Hansen", was one of the first tango places where the high class society used to hide while they learnt this dance, which was not appropiate at the time. "El Velódromo" was another Palermo local, and "Armenonville" (on the corner of Figueroa Alcorta Avenue and Salgero Street) that no longer exist.
    --(Las confiterías bailables. “Lo de Hansen” fue una confitería bailable muy concurrida en el Parque Tres de Febrero. La mitología porteña señala que allí habría nacido el tango (cosa poco probable dado el tipo de habitúes que tenía. Fue demolida en 1912. El Hansen es recordado en el tango 'Tiempos Viejos', con música de Canaro y letra de Manuel Romero, un director de cine que también lo inmortalizó en sus películas 'Los muchachos de antes no usaban gomina' (1936) y 'La rubia Mireya' (1948).

Alertas de tango: Arqueólogos de la ciudad de Buenos Aires encontraron el piso de ladrillos del Café de Hansen 50 centímetros bajo tierra en el barrio de Palermo, en el norte de la ciudad. El café tomó su nombre del apellido de su primer dueño, Juan Hansen, quien lo inauguró en 1877 en un caserón que se alzaba en medio del actual parque de Palermo y los historiadores señalaron que en aquella época era frecuentado por gente adinerada. Hasen era un local muy iluminado en contraposición con el Tambito, pero a medianoche el distinguido público del restaurant era reemplazado por compadritos y bacanes y los músicos europeos de música selecta por los tangueros criollos. Hansen fue lugar de tertulia para las patotas de la aristocracia porteña de principios de siglo y no se trató de un sitio para bailar sino para escuchar tangos. Pese a su popularidad, el Café Hansen fue demolido por las autoridades de entonces, buscando ampliar los accesos hacia el velódromo de la ciudad. Era un ambiente bravo, pero muy divertido", escribió el fallecido compositor Enrique Cadícamo sobre el lugar, demolido en 1912 para dar paso a calles y otras obras viales. A partir de 1890 llegaron las orquestas de tango al Café de Hansen, que se hizo tan popular que es nombrado en tangos como "Tiempos Viejos", que evoca la historia de la "rubia Mireya", una bella mujer que lo frecuentaba, según la tradición "tanguera". No se sabe si existió Mireya, pero sí es seguro que encarnaba a las mujeres que iban al Hansen a conocer hombres, muy bien vestidas y con buenas joyas. Era un salón de baile, concurrido por gente calavera (de la noche) de diferentes rangos. Tuvo importancia porque, además de restaurante, funcionó como lugar de baile -cuenta Gabriel Soria, vicepresidente de la Academia Nacional del Tango-. Y allí se bailaba un tango muy bien bailado porque, en sus inicios, era un lugar elegante. En la década de 1910, en el Hansen tocaron orquestas típicas, como las de Roberto Firpo y Francisco Canaro. Ellos en una entrevista recuerdan que solían armarse peleas entre los muchachos bien (de clase alta). Es que al Hansen iban los chicos ricos a "tirar manteca al techo". "Iban a buscar chicas y todo terminaba en peleas, a veces con tiros y sillas volando por el aire". El investigador Oscar del Priore dice que en el Hansen se bailaba ocasionalmente. "Es importante para el tango porque fue uno de los lugares más famosos donde se tocaba el género. De tarde funcionaba como una confitería inofensiva. Pero a la noche, era más denso, porque iban las patotas y los tangueros".
) --
    "Los Inmortales" in Corrientes Avenue. This restaurant is a real photographic museum which portrays well known local personalities, used to be frequented by Carlos Gardel, who also performed in some of its theatres.
    "La Boca" port neighbourhood, where tango was born, at the Riachuelo River bank, the place where immigrants from Genoa settled at the end of last century, creating a so called "picturesque Italian style neighborhood", an image much unlike the "slum-picture" (scroll for Slum Culture). The supporters of the Boca Juniors football team, rooted in the neighborhood of La Boca, are known as los xeneizes.

Selection YouTube tangovideos:
1. TangoClass - instructional vídeos - TangoLessons
2. Milonga and Candombe dancing
3. Tangovals clips - Tango waltzing - Valse - Tangowals
4. Various Great Tangoclips Online fast internet access needed
5. Fast Links to Selected Tango Dance Video Updates

Buenos Aires a hundred years ago ...

    The Buenos Aires' hygienist politics grew most intensely since the end of the 19th Century. The chronic epidemies that happened woke up the necessity of carrying out works for public hygiene and health. The downtown squares were reshaped and began to perform functions of education (in a way of interacting where the popular classes could acquire manners of the higher one), of sociability and hygienics. The idea of regularity, of a geometrically uniform and homogenous space—often thought of as a guarantee of or synonym for social order—was the cornerstone on which this pampean metropolis was built.

    Being Argentina a country of immigrants, several societies were created to take care of their compatriots with economic, social and health lacks. The creation and developement of public cemeteries ended the burials in churches, and this fact was added to the secularization politics of those times that becomes specially apparent in the civil issues. Formerly the dead were buried in the courtyards of the churchs except the poor or black people that were thrown in the open country to be eaten by the wild dogs.

    --(Antiguamente los muertos eran enterrados en los patios de las iglesias, salvo los pobres o negros, que se tiraban en descampados a merced de los perros cimarrones. En 1822 se prohíbe estos enterratorios. Nace así el Cementerio de La Recoleta. En 1867 fue inaugurado el Cementerio del Sur, rápidamente saturado por las su-cesivas epidemias de cólera y fiebre amarilla. source: Buenos Aires hace cien años, a través de sus postales)--

    The Birth of the Clinic, the clinic had no origins, but simply and suddenly arrived. The works for public health and the intense building of hospitals would be the way to put in practice the hygienist politics, whose influence grew most intensely since the end of the 19th Century. On the other hand, the Hospitals of Communities will denote the process of an immigratory wave that made this City the cosmopolitan par excellence. A characteristic that still remains, with cultural dialogue between the diversity of its population, avoiding the constitution of ghettos. The creation and developement of public cemeteries ended the burials in churches, and this fact was added to the secularization politics of those times that becomes specially apparent in the civil issues.

    Another signal of this politics of past icons substitution was the consecutive demolitions for openings and enlargings of streets and avenues. Squares and parks were in those times real landmarks of the attempt to urbanize and to complete the new limits of the City, consolidated in 1887 with the annexion of the towns of Flores and Belgrano. The downtown squares were also reshaped and began to perform functions of education (in a way of interacting where the popular classes could acquire manners of the higher one), of sociability and hygienics.
    --( Para el habitante de Buenos Aires Corrientes es, desde pibe (niño o joven), un faro de la cultura y el entretenimiento, donde es posible encontrar cines y espectáculos de teatro o revista de todos los países y épocas, y debatir luego sobre lo visto en uno de sus tradicionales cafés, o cenando pizza con cerveza a altas horas de la noche en un restaurante o pizzería. O, si se está solo, pasear por los corredores de las librerías-"disquerías", modernas o "de viejos".)--

    The squares were the best places for the poor to go out of their precarious housings, and especially for men, instead of the dangerous inns and coffee bars where they went to enjoy themselves. This philosophy promoted by the State would contribute to consolidate itself through social control norms.
    -- ( El mapa marca un momento clave de configuración regional. En el clima del ideario que puede condensarse en la ecuación “urbanización-industrialización-modernización”, propia de la segunda posguerra, se visualiza una colisión entre una lógica de ocupación motorizada por distintos grupos de población –que se plasma en los patrones residenciales- y los programas oficiales de control e intervención en equipamiento y vivienda pública, que configuran importante sectores. Desde comienzos del siglo XX la avenida ha sido la columna vertebral de la cultura y el entretenimiento de la ciudad, en especial en el tramo que va desde la llamada "esquina porteña", en la intersección con la calle Esmeralda, hasta la aristocrática avenida Callao. Por todo esto, en la década del 50, Roberto Gil, periodista y conductor de un programa de radio llamado "Calle Corrientes", transmitido por LR4 Splendid, la bautizó como, "La calle que nunca duerme", denominación que se hizo muy popular y sigue teniendo vigencia. ) --

    At the end of the 19th Century there were no more than twenty green spaces, but in the beginning of the 20th were projected and built most of the current parks of the City, being the centre of the urbanization in those times. Hospitals were founded formerly for giving home to resourceless people. As a consequence of the poor medical knowledge of that time, they were used also to segregate and isolate certain kinds of patients. Towards 1880, the hygienist current begins to think about human health as a right that must be assured by the State.

    The chronic epidemies that happened in Buenos Aires woke up the necessity of carrying out works for public hygiene and health. It’s therefore common to see several hospitals in the postcards of 100 years ago. San Roque Hospital was inaugurated in 1883. It was the first municipal hospital and today is called Ramos Mejía Hospital. It’s placed at the intersection of Urquiza Street and Venezuela Street. It was preceded by San Roque’s Lazzareto (1867), bound for patients with contagious diseases. That was the reason for which it was chosen a country place –in that time- far from downtown to establish it. It gave important services during the yellow fever epidemic. Being Argentina a country of immigrants, several societies were created to take care of their compatriots with economic, social and health lacks. Among other services, the “community hospital” was founded. Among them the French, Spanish, Italian and British hospitals.

    Cemeteries: Formerly the dead were buried in the courtyards of the churchs (except the poor or black people that were thrown in the open country to be eaten by the wild dogs). Those burials were forbidden in 1822. Because of this, the Recoleta Cemetery was founded. In 1867 was inaugurated the Southern Cemetery, quickly filled because of the consecutive epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. It was closed in 1892, becoming the current Florentino Ameghino Park. Near this place, in Spain Square existed a small cemetery for English people. The towns of Belgrano and Flores also had cemeteries.
    --(Antiguamente los muertos eran enterrados en los patios de las iglesias, salvo los pobres o negros, que se tiraban en descampados a merced de los perros cimarrones. En 1822 se prohíbe estos enterratorios. Nace así el Cementerio de La Recoleta. En 1867 fue inaugurado el Cementerio del Sur, rápidamente saturado por las su-cesivas epidemias de cólera y fiebre amarilla. Clausurado en 1892 es el actual parque Florentino Ameghino. Cercano a este lugar, en Plaza España, existió un pequeño cementerio de ingleses Los pueblos de Belgrano y Flores también tuvieron cementerios. En 1871, durante la epidemia de fiebre amarilla; y con la finalidad de evacuar con mayor rapidez los cadáveres de la ciudad, se incorporó un tramo del Ferrocarril Oeste desde Pueyrredón hasta un cementerio que se habilitó al efecto, en donde actualmente se encuentra el Parque Los Andes (y que luego se trasladaría al actual de la Chacarita). La construcción del tramo, que se concluyó en dos meses, la dirigió el ingeniero Augusto Ringuelet. Al tren que cumplía la lúgubre misión de transportar los cadáveres se lo conocía como de la muerte o fúnebre, al igual que a las tres estaciones en la que se depositaban los mismos para ser trasladados: la Bermejo, en la esquina sudoeste de la calle homónima (hoy Jean Jaurés) con la avenida Corrientes, la que se encontraba en la esquina sudoeste de Corrientes y Medrano; y la de la esquina con Scalabrini Ortiz (entonces llamada Camino Ministro Inglés. Al mencionado tren lo sucedió el tranvía Fúnebre y a partir de éste, en 1887, la compañía Lacroze obtuvo una concesión para extender vías por donde circularía el llamado tranvía Rural, de tracción a sangre como todos los de esa época, desde la actual Pueyrredón hasta la Chacarita, por la actual Corrientes, y de este último punto hacia Belgrano y de aquí ramales a la provincia. Este contrato se le otorgó con la condición de que además de pasajeros debían llevar cadáveres hasta el cementerio. Eran tranvías de techo abierto y asientos de madera y fue principalmente gracias ellos que las viviendas se fueron extendiendo sobre las quintas y los hornos de barro que aún existían. / - Finalmente, en 1871, la fiebre amarilla, que hace estragos entre los pobladores hacinados en los conventillos de los barrios del sur de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, cobra gran número de vidas entre ellos, terminando de hecho con la mayor parte de los hombres de color.)

    The Recoleta Cemetery was created in 1822 in the vegetable garden that the priests recoletos possessed besides the Del Pilar Church. Chacarita Cemetery: The yellow fever epidemic of 1871 forced to find quickly another burial place. This cemetery was called also “Western” between 1896 an 1949. There are buried tango celebrities, outstanding among them Carlos Gardel, whose sculptural group is object of offerings and rituals. The tombs of former President Juan Perón and the poetess Alfonsina Storni are also there. Dissidents’ Cemetery: In 1820 the English community got a permission to place a cemetery at the rear of Socorro Church. Prior to this date, Protestants were buried in the bank of the river, at the zone of Retiro. The second dissidents’ cemetery was located in the current First of May Square, in Pasco Street and Alsina Street. These grounds were changed afterwards by a piece of land adjacent to Chacarita Cemetery, where are placed today the British and German cemeteries.

    The National Penitentiary. It was settled on Las Heras Avenue between Coronel Díaz Avenue and Salguero Street. At about 1877 it had seven paranoptic shaped pavilions, usual in those years. It was surrounded by a high wall with turrets. It was demolished in 1961, and today the Juan Gregorio de Las Heras Park is located there. Several plates in the place remember the executions by shooting carried out there after the military coup d’etat of 1955.
    Alvear Avenue: A hundred years ago petit hotels and mansions had been built in this Avenue by families with big fortunes. This way it became the most paradigmatic street in the North Quarter. Several of those splendid residences, like that of Ortiz Basualdo or Pereda families, became afterwards diplomatic head quarters. Today it is shown as “the French Buenos Aires” to the foreign tourists.
    Sarmiento Avenue – called originally Palms Avenue- extends from Italia Square to the Palermo Forests, ending in Rafael Obligado Coastal Avenue. It was an elegant boulevard bound for strolling of Buenos Aires’ people. A hundred years ago the “Flowers Carnival Parade” was celebrated there.

    Mayo Avenue: In 1886 during the mayorship of Torcuato de Alvear, the demolitions that gave origin to Mayo Avenue from Bolívar Street to Luis Sáenz Peña Street began. The Avenue was inaugurated in July 9th, 1894, becoming the great stage for the public and social life of the City of a hundred years ago.

    Subway ( Subte / subterráneos): As in only ten years, between 1903 and 1913, the number of inhabitants rose from 895.381 to 1.457.885, the construction of fast subway transport means became the right solution to the astonishing growth of the city. The construction and operation of Line "A" took 26 months. Newspapers commented in great detail on the ongoing of the construction work and its opening on December 1st, 1913, the first stage which reached Plaza Miserere. The following day the subway was opened to the people, and 170.000 passengers traveled by this new transport means. On April 1st, 1914 Río de Janeiro Station was inaugurated, and 90 days later the last section of Line A until Primera Junta, was completed. The construction of this line was the only one carried out "under open sky". 1.500 persons were employed and 440.000 m3 of land were dug out and used to fill the low areas surrounding the cemetery of Flores and Velez Sarsfield Avenue. Ventilation, light, esthetics and final details were carefully designed. It should also be mentioned that different colors of tiles were used for the design of each station, so that people who could not read, were able to easily identify the different stations. The construction and operation of Line "C" started in 1933. Records of that age described the growing unemployment, for which reason Plaza Constitución was crowded with men from everywhere in search of work. They would stay overnight waiting for a job. Every morning the technicians and the foremen were harassed by the workers to get a job, this situation resulted in the prompt completion of the project. An important feature of this line was the introduction of a beautiful decorative and luxury element: the artistic majolica paintings which decorated the stations. These murals with landscapes of typical regions of Spain.

Subte BsAs Argentina - video bajofondo tango club
Buenos Aires a hundred years ago, through its potscards. PDF
Buenos Aires hace cien años, a través de sus postales. PDF

Urbanisation vs Slum Culture

    Urbanisation is called the social transformation process whereby cities grow and societies become more urban. However, in the surrounding areas that were occupied during the second half of the 20th century, official intervention has been less influential. Higher- and lower-income population groups have created specific enclaves that show growing social and spatial fragmentation. How is urbanization negatively effecting our society? *  "Reflections on Urbanization and Respect for the Slum Culture" is one of the most profound writings of analysis and understanding of the culture of the urban popular sectors. It begins by saying that "life in the slum" has meant that the priests have a "particular perspective" that differs from the one that those living in other places might have. Contrary to the politicians and formal society, who believe that among the poor everything is "need" and negativity (drugs, violence, poverty), defend "a positive perspective on the culture that exists in the slum." The slum culture is nothing but a rich popular culture of our Latin American people. The slum culture has its own way of perceiving and using public space. As such the street is the natural extension of one's home, not simply a transit point, but a place where one creates ties with the neighbors, where one finds the possibility to express oneself, the place for popular celebrations. They reject the word "urbanize," because it is unilateral, comes from a position of power, and displays a devaluation of the slum culture.

    Other expressions for the word "slum": "Shanty town", (shanty: small primitive shelter used as a dwelling, homes for the homeless, Bidonville). Shanty towns (also called squatter settlements camps, favelas in Rio de Janeiro) are settlements (sometimes illegal or unauthorized / sin autorización ni control) of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap. Shantytowns are also called asentamientos irregulares ("irregular settlements" - informal) or villas de emergencia ("emergency villages"). In most of Argentina, the unqualified word villa usually refers to a villa miseria (misery town/village). The villas draw people from several backgrounds. Many of them are migrants, coming from poorer provinces or from impoverished rural areas near the cities, especially during Perón's first government, and a smaller number are recent immigrants from neighbouring countries (especially Paraguay and more recently Bolivia). Others are local citizens who have fallen from an already precarious economic position.
    Villa 31, one of the best-known slums in Buenos Aires, located in Retiro on "tierras públicas" (public lands since 1930, used to house families of unemployed dockworkers / a familias de obreros portuarios desempleados por la crisis de 1929) belonging to the port of Buenos Aires and the main railroad terminal, in 1940 used to house European immigrants. Today, as 30.000 to 70.000 persons are living in the villa 31 y 31 bis on the "terrenos ferroviarios federales", it is an urgent and delicate social urbanisation problem for "El Gobierno porteño". (Un arquitecto se hizo pasar por fumigador durante un mes en la villa 31, y realizó un relevamiento de la situación urbanística del asentamiento de Retiro. Según un viejo censo oficial, viven allí unas 30 mil personas. Conforme los cálculos del actual gobierno, ya son 40 mil y 70 mil a juicio de los habitantes del asentamiento. Hay que evitar que la villa se siga expandiendo, porque es realmente peligroso lo que está sucediendo ahí.)

    Vanishing Cultures - There's a tendency for those of us in the dominant Western culture to view traditional people—even when we're sympathetic to their plight—as quaint and colorful, but reduced to the sidelines of history, while the real world, which of course is our world, continues moving forward. We see these societies as failed attempts at modernity, as if they're destined to fade away by some natural law, as if they can't cope with change. That's simply not true. Change is the one constant in history. All societies in all times and in all places constantly adapt to new possibilities for life. It's not change per se that threatens the integrity of the ethnosphere, nor is it technology. It is power—the crude face of domination. In every instance, these societies are not failed attempts of modernity. They're not archaic, destined to fade away. They are dynamic, living, vital cultures that are being driven out of existence by identifiable external forces. These other cultures are not failed attempts to be us; they are unique manifestations of the spirit—other options, other visions of life itself. Torn from the past, they're propelled into an uncertain future, often in a very insecure place on the lowest economic ladder that goes nowhere. With each group that is uprooted or assimilated, a culture vanishes.

urban cleanup ZibechiReport#10 - The Poorest Resist "Social Cleansing"
Villa 31 de Retiro - Mujeres Artesanas - niños pobres
Villa 31 Retiro, 70 años de historia y lucha urbana
Argentina Centro de Medios Independientes
Movimiento Barrios de Pie
Ghost Train - worldpress photos

Buenos Aires Night Ghosts

    So, when you’re all dressed up to hit the milongas, you probably cross dark shadows searching for garbage in the streets of Buenos Aires. They are called "cartoneros", once factory workers, farmers, or low-wage workers who lost their jobs during Argentina's 2002 economic collapse and are since surviving by collecting cardboard, plastic and glass from the wealthy neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and selling them to recycling companies. Working as a cartonera, or trash scavenger, involves going through bags of rubbish and separating out the material into different bags. When the Argentine economy collapsed in late December 2001, the residents of José León Suárez, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, were among the first to lose their jobs. In the following months many, faced with the prospect of starvation, joined piquetero organizations (Movimientos de Trabajadores Desocupados, MTDs) informal networks dedicated to mutual aid and often destructive political protest. In José León Suárez, residents successfully lobbied the government to begin nightly train service from their community to the more salubrious neighborhoods of downtown Buenos Aires, where cartoneros, cardboard collectors, sort through the day's trash in search of recyclable material that can be exchanged for money.
    Today, according to the International Red Cross, some 2,000 cartoneros use the train. Volunteers staff a nursery school so that children will have a safe place to be while their parents are at work every night. In the evening, the cartoneros pile on to a government-supplied train, a stripped-down wreck without seats, heat for the winter, or air-conditioning for the summer. El Tren Blanco, or the “white train,” as most cartoneros call it, leaves downtown Buenos Aires before dawn. Most Argentines never see the cartoneros. The poor, as everyone knows, are invisible. Aware of their invisibility, the cartoneros have taken to calling the train El Tren del Fantasma, or the “Ghost Train.”


    Not so long ago, Daniela Cott was one of those Buenos Aires' 'cartoneras', one of the many people scavenging through rubbish on the streets of Argentina's capital. Daniela says it wasn't a nice way to make a living and she didn't like doing it but had to do it to help her family. Then, in mid-2005, Daniela’s cinderella story from cartonera to model began: One evening, Ms. Marina González Winkler, a necklace designer, saw Daniela Cott on the street wearing a baseball cap and carrying a couple of trash bags. Noting that Ms. Cott was about her size, the designer offered her some clothes she wasn't wearing anymore. Ms. Cott gratefully accepted. The next evening Ms. Cott showed up at Ms. González's door with a bloody hand she'd cut on a tin can. Ms. González helped bandage the wound, and their friendship was sealed. One day in early 2006, Ms. González shot photos of Ms. Cott on her terrace modeling sportswear she'd given her. " 'You weren't born to be a cartonera,' " Ms. Cott recalls her friend saying. Ms. González took the shots to a powerful modeling agent, Ricardo Pineiro. The agency gave Ms. Cott a free modeling course, with lessons on applying makeup, walking in high heels and conversing with designers. Daniella Cott gradually stopped working as garbage recycler to focus on her new career.
    In 2006, a friend of Ms. González's who owned a youth-oriented clothing label gave Ms. Cott her first job as a photographic model. Last year, Ms. Cott's representatives approached another designer, Vanesa López, who was preparing for a fashion show. Ms. López says she pondered how an association with a cartonera would affect the label that bears her name. "There's a lot of discrimination in Argentina," Ms. López says. Ultimately, Ms. López says, "I decided to take a chance and try to turn Cinderella into a princess." Ms. López said Daniella Cott was a natural on the catwalk and the show got great publicity for her clothing. That experience gave Ms. Cott courage to enter the Elite competition, in which 1,000 applicants were whittled down to 18 finalists. Ms. Cott was one of the youngest contenders in the finals, which included swimsuit and evening-dress competitions. "I didn't think I had a chance," she says. Ms. Cott still lives at home, and hasn't earned enough from her modeling to transform her family's economic circumstances. A couple of her brothers still scavenge.
    Daniela Cott made headlines before the Elite competition with the help of her agents, who pitched her Cinderella story to the local press. Television appearances followed. Denise Dumas, a model who hosts a TV fashion and health show, had Ms. Cott as a guest last year. "I saw her in the studio and she was divine, tall with wonderful skin," she says. Then Ms. Dumas got closer and saw Daniela Cott's hands. "There were calluses, cuts, scars, dark blotches and dry patches," says Ms. Dumas. Stigmata, like Christianity marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ. "That's when I really began to understand what Daniela had been through." Daniela Cott has since undergone extensive dermatological treatment on her hands to help heal the scars of scavenging. She says she wants to use her celebrity to press the government to supply all trash pickers with protective gloves. The young model says she's not ashamed of having worked as a cartonera, "because that gave me a very strong character and taught me not to be afraid of anything." “I don’t mind having been a “cartonera”, it is part of my life but I do mind when people insult me”, she says. In the competitive world of modeling, she knows that it will probably take time for people to forget the stigma of who she was. She is the “cartonera model” and will probably remain so in her country.

    In Argentina, there's already talk of a film and book about the miracle makeover. Being a former cartonera makes her a great rags-to-riches "Cenicienta"-tale. In a photo spread for a local newspaper in August, she was shot in a denim miniskirt in front of a line of grimy-looking scavengers.

    Yet being a cartonera carries a stigma in Argentina. In a country that has long identified itself as much with Europe as Latin America, there is deep ambivalence towards the scavengers who take over the streets at night.

    Scavenging was for many years illegal under a decree issued by a military dictatorship in the 1970s. The law wasn't overturned until 2002, after a crippling recession had forced thousands of Argentines to pick refuse to survive. There were at the time an estimated 100,000 scavengers on the streets. The numbers went down in recent years due to a slight economic recovery, but there are still an estimated 6,000 “scavengers”, according to the latest census. The official number is 3,200, but did not include children and people who did not want to participate in the survey. With an unemployment rate of 8 %, down from 21.5% in 2002, the government has recognized the economic and environmental benefits of informal recycling: huge savings on garbage collection and a 25 percent reduction in the city's solid waste going to landfills. In 2003, in the metropolis, one could find as many as 40.000 cartoneros. The law 992 had just been passed, giving a legal status to this activity. The economy is in better shape now, but there are still an estimated 10,000 scavengers who sell their findings to recycling centers. The Buenos Aires train company recently "canceled" a special train that carried trash-pickers downtown from their barrios. The company blamed vandalism on the route; scavengers claim discrimination.

El famoso tren cartonero que circula cada día por la Línea Tigre del Ferrocarril Mitre utilizando un equipo Toshiba, - video 2:
Tren Cartonero Mitre - Línea Tigre

    Some cartoneras have organized themselves to earn more money like Cristina Lescano who founded El Ceibo, a cooperative of cartoneras. After losing her job as a community worker in the late 80’s, Cristina remembers that trash picking was the only option left to feed her family. “We were only 7 women at the beginning. We entered a new world, a world of men at night. At first they gave us a cold stare, but soon we did the job together: women, men and also our children. Some neighbors felt pity for us when they saw us, others looked down on us, but now our relationship has changed”. Today, some 2,400 neighbors collaborate with El Ceibo by sorting out plastics, glass and cardboard that is being collected by the staff every morning. The cooperative, named after a local tree, now supports 53 families and operates mainly in Palermo, an upper class district in Buenos Aires. Stacking cardboard on her cart, Maria Luisa, who has been trash picking for the past seven years, explains that the big change now is the recognition they get from the authorities and local communities. “Working at night is a marginal job”, explains Cristina who felt ashamed each time she had to go out to “cirujear”, another synonym for trash scavenging.

En Argentina, no hay negros...

  Un mecanismo de invisibilización fue sistemáticamente aplicado a los afroargentinos, grupo al que se consideró "desaparecido" en algún momento de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, sin que hasta el presente exista una explicación razonable para la desaparición de un sector que representaba el 30% de la población total pocos años antes. También se ha desarrollado una política de invisibilización para con los inmigrantes de otros países latinoamericanos y sus descendientes, que en algunos casos han constituido comunidades mayores y más antiguas que las de la mayoría de los grupos europeos que migraron a la Argentina.
  La misma ideología que sostiene que "en Argentina no hay negros" utiliza la palabra "negros" para denominar a una masa mayoritaria de la población integrada por trabajadores, pobres, migrantes internos, inmigrantes latinoamericanos, indígenas, sin demasiada distinción. "Grone" ("ne-gro", al revés) también es un término racista de amplia utilización en la Argentina, especialmente en Buenos Aires. Se trata de una palabra del lunfardo rioplatense, el vesre, que consiste en pronunciar las palabra invirtiendo sus sílabas. Un grone no es necesariamente una persona negra, ni de piel oscura. Básicamente es una persona a la que se desprecia por su condición social, frecuentemente un trabajador o hijo de éste, perteneciente a la clase baja o media baja. Puede decírsele grone también a una persona de piel muy clara, cabello rubio y ojos azules, si pertenece a la clase baja o expresa gustos culturales populares. Más recientemente ha comenzado a ser habitual, en este tipo de racismo, asociar la condición de grone -o negro- a la delincuencia.
  El proceso de invisibilización ha sido ejecutado mediante múltiples formas. Una de ellas ha sido la manipulación de los censos, para reducir y hasta eliminar los registros relacionados con personas o culturas no europeas. El proceso de invisibilización en las publicaciones sociales y escolares se realiza mediante técnicas sutiles de manipulación de textos, mediante los modos de denominar y adjetivar, cuando no en la abierta omisión de los hechos sociales o la falsificación de los mismos.
  Visibilización e Invisibilización: La Argentina intenta seguir viviendo la ilusión de ser un país racialmente homogéneo, mayormente europeo y, por ende, blanco, donde la discriminación no existe. La invisibilización de los pueblos originarios es una de las formas de discriminación. En la medida en que se niega la existencia, los pueblos indígenas reclaman derechos que no les dan y no se los dan porque "no existen". La cultura dominante no lo ve, lo invisibiliza. Invisibilidad, la imposibilidad de ser visto.
  Entonces, a los pueblos indígenas se les está negando la propia existencia. Ya no se les niegan los derechos, se les niega la existencia. Es una negativa más radical. "No tenemos el problema indígena en Argentina." Como si los indígenas fueran un problema. Es el caso de la "superioridad" con la que se autoperciben muchos argentinos respecto del resto de latinoamericanos, y tantos costarricenses respecto de los centroamericanos. Es la dialética del enano que necesita bajarle el piso a los demás para saberse grande. Es una absurda guerra de espejos. "Parece negro" o "parece indio", son insultos frecuentes en América latina; y "parece blanco" es un frecuente homenaje. La mezcla con sangre negra o india "atrasa la raza"; la mezcla con sangre blanca "mejora la especie".
  Hay una cuestión de clase. No podemos ignorar que pesa sobre nosotros toda una cultura colonialista, hay una concepción de que el indígena es alguien atrasado, culturalmente inferior, es un racismo de raíz cultural en la clase media argentina. Se los ve como personas de otra cultura, con una inclinación etnocentrista a considerarlas de una cultura inferior. La clase media discrimina a los pueblos originarios por una raíz de clase y etnia.
  El término cabecita negra tiene un inocultable componente de clase: está dirigido a un tipo definido de trabajador y trabajadora que compuso el grueso de la nueva clase obrera industrial que se desarrolló a partir de 1935 y se expandió velozmente a partir de 1939.
  Esta nueva clase obrera se instaló en los márgenes de la ciudad de Buenos Aires y otras ciudades en menor medida, modificando completamente su composición social. El proletariado, la nueva clase obrera, es un término utilizado para designar a la clase social más baja de la época de la edad moderna que, en el modo de producción capitalista, se ve obligada a vender su fuerza de trabajo a la burguesia por carecer de los medios de producción. Un miembro de tal clase es llamado un proletario. El término se utilizó inicialmente en un sentido despectivo, hasta que Karl Marx lo utilizó en un sentido positivo para identificar lo que él llamó la clase obrera (ahora, en la sociedad de consumo, la clase media), diferenciando proletariado y lumpenproletariado ("homo sacer" hombre sin derechos / marginalized elements of society) y colocándole como un grupo antagónico a la clase burguesa.

Daniela Cott, "La Cartonera"

    Durante tres años, Daniela Cott trabajó como cartonera. Los días de Daniela Cott transcurrían entre botellas, cartones y bolsas de basura. Todas las tardes salía a cartonear. Hasta que un cazador de talentos quedó deslumbrado por sus ojos verdes y su inquietante belleza y le propuso ser modelo. Daniela cartoneaba por algunas avenidas y calles de Palermo con uno de sus hermanitos y una tía. A la mañana iba al colegio y a las 5 de la tarde viajaban para Capital. Como consecuencia de su trabajo, sus manos están ásperas, cortadas, y en la agencia las cuidan ahora con un tratamiento especial.

    Daniela Cott, de l’ombre à la lumière. Découverte à Buenos Aires alors qu’elle fouillait dans les poubelles pour faire vivre sa famille, Daniela Cott est aujourd’hui un top model en vogue. Malgré le succès, on ne s’affranchit pas si facilement de son passé, surtout quand on est une ancienne "cartonera". Elle faisait partie de ceux que personne ne voulait voir, les cartoneros, parias de la société argentine. Véritable cendrillon moderne, Daniela inspire les plus grands réalisateurs comme Pedro Almodovar qui souhaite adapter sa vie au cinéma. Son histoire ressemble à un conte de fée.
    Comme toutes les histoires de Disney, le début est catastrophique. La crise économique en Argentine au début des années 2000 a plongé sa famille dans la misère. Daniela ainsi que ses neufs frères et sœurs a été contrainte de fouiller les poubelles et autre décharges à la recherche de matériaux à revendre. La jeune fille gagnait alors 5 euros pas jour. Mais son passé l’a rattrapée. Plusieurs magazines ont refusé de publier sa photo en apprenant qu’elle avait été une cartonera. Hormis ce triste incident, la carrière de Daniela est en marche, loin des montagnes de déchets qui autrefois constituaient son paysage. Seules ses mains portaient les stigmates des premières années de sa vie d’ado. Verrues, cicatrices, ecchymoses, tâches brunes : à force d’être plongées dans les poubelles, ses mains n’étaient pas dignes d’être exposées en première page des magazines. Mais avec un traitement dermatologique, Daniela s'est défait de ce dernier obstacle pour embrasser une carrière de mannequin prometteuse.
    Extirpée des bas-fonds, la jeune fille garde la tête froide. Plus effrayée que grisée par le succès, la top model vit toujours avec sa famille dans les bidonvilles et fréquente toujours la même école. Elle redoute même le jour où son métier la contraindra à partir. Elle économise d’ailleurs ses cachets pour offrir à sa famille une vraie maison et trois repas par jour. A 16 ans, celle que l’on présente un peu hâtivement comme la nouvelle Eva Peron, surnommée "la madonne des sans-chemises", souhaite devenir en tout cas la voix des exclus. Modestement, elle a demandé au gouvernement argentin de fournir des gants aux cartoneros. Pour qu’eux n'aient jamais honte de leurs mains.

    Familie hatte während der großen Wirtschaftskrise 2001 kein Geld mehr, um die vielen Kinder zu ernähren, und beschloss, als Cartoneros zu arbeiten, als Müllsammler. Die beiden Frauen kauften sich einen Handwagen und nahmen alle mit auf ihre allabendliche Tour, die Kinder, Enkel, auch die Babys. Sie zogen durch die Straßen des wohlhabenden Stadtteils Palermo, öffneten Müllsäcke, trennten Papier, Glas und Metall und verkauften es an Zwischenhändler. Sie wühlten sich durch Essensreste, Schimmel, durch Frauenbinden und Kot, sie kamen nach Hause mit 400 Pesos pro Woche (knapp 100 Euro) für die ganze Familie.
    Man erwartet nun ein großes Lamento, doch die Großmutter Juana Roldán sagt, nicht ohne Melancholie: "Es waren fünf harte Jahre, aber es war eine gute Zeit. Ich vermisse sie manchmal." - "Es war ein großes Abenteuer, jeden Abend ein Familienausflug mit Sack und Pack, manchmal mussten wir kämpfen und unser Territorium verteidigen." Sie erzählen noch eine Weile von damals, so wie Veteranen vom Krieg erzählen, von den großen Schlachten der Straße, von ihrem Recht auf Müll, als wäre dies ein Menschenrecht. Da sitzt eine Gruppe starker Frauen, die das Kämpfen lernten und ihre Würde fanden. Daniela, "La Cartonera", gerade 14 Jahre alt, wurde eingeladen zu weiteren Fotoshootings und einem halbjährigen Modeltraining. "Negra" nannte man sie abfällig, nicht weil sie schwarze Haut hatte, sondern weil sie aus der Armut kam, der Peripherie, in einem Land, in dem die Postleitzahl das größte Stigma sein kann. Daniela war dünner als alle anderen und entsprach so gar nicht dem gängigen argentinischen Ideal: schlank, aber kurvig, mit "mucha carne", wie sie sagen, viel Fleisch, etwas zum Zupacken. Daniela Cott, "La negra", aus dem Armenviertel "Eva Perón". Eine "Negra". Aus einer Villa Miseria, einem Slum. Ohne Benehmen. Ohne Würde und Klasse. Ein kleines Erdbeben stattfand im klassenbewussten Argentinien.

Tango-E-Vita, multilingual Belgian website which focuses on the many different dimensions of performing and experiencing Argentine Tango Dance as a living, ongoing event. Online multimedia such as instructional video-clips on guiding technique and views of shows. Articles in English, Dutch and other languages, with information and thoughts on the manner and quality of couple dancing and, regarding the mind-body relation and the act of exploring non-verbal communication, the powerful contemporary value of it. A special attention for multiple perspectives on gender, social class differences and mentality changes in the history of Tango Argentino.